By Rebecca Talley
Last week my family and I vacationed in Santa Barbara, California, where I was born and raised. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous city that sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.
The city has strict building ordinances so most of the buildings are Spanish style with the red tile roofs. The Courthouse is an incredibly beautiful building that was built over 100 years ago.
Many years ago, I was in the car with my maternal grandmother (who was raising me after the deaths of my parents) and we drove past a white brick building with a steeple. I asked her about it and she replied that it was an LDS Church. She then admitted that she was a member of the LDS Church but hadn’t attended for years. I asked if we could attend church and the next Sunday we did. As is par for LDS wards, we were immediately assigned a home teacher and not long afterward, I was baptized by that home teacher.
Last Sunday, while in Santa Barbara, we attended church in this same building. As soon as I entered the chapel, I was overcome with the emotional connection I have to that building because this is where it all started for me. This was where I was baptized so many years ago, where I attended Primary, Mutual, and Seminary. This is the building where I spent so many early summer mornings practicing for a Road Show and then a Dance Festival a few years later. I played basketball in that gym for my YW team. I also danced in the same gym when we had ward dances and ate dinner there for ward activities and daddy-daughter parties with my grandfather. I remember dancing under the stars during a New Year’s Eve dance we held in the patio area and the Pioneer Day bash on the back grass.
Back in the day, when we had Primary on a Wednesday afternoon, my best friend’s mom served as President. As teenagers, my friend and I helped play games with the Primary kids. I also remember the cribs in the nursery that are now long gone. I can remember being in the Jr. Primary room and watching the YM bless and pass the sacrament to the young children.
Every inch of that building holds a memory for me. But, most of all, this is the building where my tiny mustard seed of a testimony first received its nourishment and began to grow. This is where my feet were first planted firmly in the gospel sod. Ward members gathered me under their wings, fed my spirit, and loved me into the gospel.
It seems strange to have such a strong connection to a bunch of bricks and mortar, but for me, this building will always symbolize my connection to the Savior.